Vanity Fair

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Compiled by Poorva Rajaram

Homegrown Mallika Sherawat
Homegrown Mallika Sherawat, Photo: AP

Back to Her roots

We have to admit that Kismat Love Paisa Dilli, Mallika Sherawat’s new movie costarring Vivek Oberoi, has a pre-making glow of promise. Mallika will play a Haryanvi girl. Now, we are happy this film exists simply because Bollywood has dispelled the bad karma of Aisha, whose Haryanvi character Shefali was the tragic epicentre of the movie. There is an outside possibility Mallika (whose hazy biographical timeline the media has been speculating about for years) will draw on her life experience and regional expertise to play this character.

 

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Photo: AFP

Denial

Coming Out As Not-Gay

The issue has long ceased to be about whether Jackie Shroff is gay or not, but rather what kind of evidence is surfacing to support claims being made. His wife Ayesha posits “He was called the first lady-killer of the industry” as rib-crackingly funny proof that he is not gay. ‘Not-gay’, of course, is a hugely popular category of selfidentification amongst Bollywood male stars. It is intriguing to wonder which diabolical mind cooked up the story that Shroff held a coming-out press conference, with full knowledge that press conferences are objectively verifiable events.

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Coping with Copies

Perhaps this point should have been emphasised more at the time Ready was released, but Dhinka Chika is a far worse version of the Telegu track Ringa Ringa, in terms of both song and video. Why this point needs such bald restating is related to stories about Tom Cruise’s new-found love for Dhinka Chika. Somehow, all the credit for this moment of national triumph seems to fall at the feet of Salman Khan. Perhaps for once, newspaper readers should be introduced to an alternative universe in which all does not emanate from Salman Khan.

 

Large And Leaden

What weighs 37 kg and goes on for 800 pages? No, its not a racy new compilation of Lokpal drafts or a copy of the Indian Constitution with large font. It’s the upcoming Opus Media Group compilation on Shah Rukh Khan. After Sachin Tendulkar received this particular honour, SRK joins the likes of Michael Jackson. Apparently, the collection will include extracts from his personal diaries. Don’t get too worried about the weight, King Khan – The Official Opus of Shah Rukh Khan will be available electronically as well.

 


‘Goofy and Noddy were my first puppets’

WHO Originally from Pune, this Padma Shri awardee joined the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad. He later attended the Marionette Theatre Institute in Stockholm. In 1986, he started the Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust. He is currently the president the World Puppetry Organisation. He has travelled widely to teach and perform in many countries, including the US, UK, Russia, Japan and Australia.

Dadi Pudumji, 60, Puppeteer
Dadi Pudumji, 60, Puppeteer, Photo: Tarun Sehrawat

How did you get into puppetry? Why did you choose it over other performing arts?
I must have been seven when I got my first puppet. There was Goofy and Noddy and soon, I was making puppets. Today, I am a puppeteer. It started as a hobby. Luckily it was encouraged in school. We had a scratch concert every few months, where everyone would perform on stage. That was my platform. Puppetry encompasses many other arts. You work with voice, with movements, with other visual arts. The work I do is an amalgam of puppets, actors and masks.

How is our puppetry tradition perceived outside India?
I think people are very keen to see the Indian puppetry tradition. Earlier, it was only the traditional Rajasthani art form. Now, however, we know of various other techniques in India, for instance from UP and Odisha.

Does the emphasis on social awareness campaigns take away from your art?
Almost every puppeteer in India does commissioned work for agencies like Unicef and Unesco on social awareness. We did this huge Unesco project that took five years to complete. We worked with marginalised groups from all over the world. The challenge is to find a balance between medium and message. Making a performance interesting and yet getting the message across is challenging.

Tell us about your favourite puppet character?
Some are characters I made as a student in Stockholm; this old Parsi rod puppet and an old string puppet, a Gujrati rabbadi character.

Are your puppets based on real people?
Way back in the 1980s, we did a video magazine with India Today and HT. We had one section called Funny Things. It was a political satire, on Parliament and politicians. I think it was the first such political satire in India using puppets.

Koshtub Vohra


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